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Globalization and the Environment

Risk Assessment and the WTO

Edited by David Robertson and Aynsley Kellow

One of the unforeseen consequences of the WTO agreements has been controversy over risk. This volume explores aspects of risk with special reference to the WTO, where national instruments to reduce risk may conflict with international trade rules. The book is divided into sections dealing with: accounting for risk in trade agreements; risk and the WTO; managing risk in policy making; negotiating experience with risk; national risks and quarantine standards; and managing biotechnology.
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Chapter 10: Reducing chemical risks: OECD and lead

Kaye Dal Bon


Kaye Dal Bon INTRODUCTION As with any risk reduction activity, key considerations for international chemicals management are identification and selection of target chemicals; assessment of associated risks; and determination of the need and form of risk reduction strategies. This chapter outlines the rationale and general character of international chemicals management and challenges facing international risk reduction drawing on experience with lead risk reduction in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). BACKGROUND In 1992, the UN Earth Summit1 (UNCED) identified two major barriers to sustainable chemicals use, particularly in developing countries. One was the lack of sufficient scientific information for assessment of risks posed by the many chemicals now in use, and the other the lack of resources for assessment of those chemicals for which data is available. An underlying principle of the international chemicals management programme outlined in UNCED Agenda 21, Chapter 19 is the need to avoid duplication and to maximize use of existing resources through harmonization and cooperative international effort. The potential for internationalization of hazard assessment is evident in the focus in Agenda 21 on accelerating the cooperative assessment of chemical risks, developing a globally harmonized chemical hazard classification and labelling system, and formalizing information exchange, including voluntary arrangements for prior informed consent for the import of hazardous chemicals.2 The need for complementary regulatory frameworks and technical capacity in toxicity testing and exposure analysis at the national level underlies the focus on capacity building. While recognizing that risk reduction is primarily a national responsibility, the...

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